Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Simplified Japanese fat noodle dishDSC_4227

Have you seen ‘UDON’? It is a 2006 movie about a guy who wants to be a comedian abroad in New York but couldn’t make it and broke, returns to his home town of Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku. HIs father owned a fat noodle shop which he had no desire of taking over. He eventually got a job at the local town newspaper as editor of tourist guide book. He accidently created Sanuki noodle boom which is Kagawa’s specialty udon. I like the scene in which he and a lovely colleague go all over town trying different noodle shops. I had the sudden urge to have noodles after watching it. This funny, cute and delicious movie is available on Netflix. You’ve got to see it if you like udon noodles.

Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Japan. It’s nickname is udon prefecture (うどん県) Many self-serve Sanuki udon eateries available there. Similar to self-serve yogurt shops, you choose noodle sauce and choose your toppings then pay. The price is determined by number of toppings not by weight. Don’t fret! it’s not expensive!  Charter the ‘udon taxi’ (about $50 for 1 hour) there and you could try lots of udon shops and taxi drivers really knows udon but I think that will make you udon out for a while. Do you know there is such an udon shop in Seattle? U:DON  is the name. Cute, huh?  It’s located in University district. I bet students love this good but cheap place.

I like fox (きつね) among toppings the best. The fox is actually fried bean curd sweetened with sugar and soy sauce. There is an old folk tale of how Foxes possess magical power that transform themselves into human to deceive people and their favorite treat is fried bean curd. Some people in Japan worship fox and use bean curd as an offering. Another popular topping is tanuki (たぬき-red raccoon) fried mixed vegetable tempura (かき揚げ). A Tanuki also can turn himself to human or other object and trick people without being mean-spirited but I don’t know if they like fried vegetable tempura though. Today I made a simple udon noodle topped with soft poached egg. We still don’t a have kitchen, remember? This one pot wonder is hearty and easy!DSC_4209

Ingredients for today’s udon dish Serves 1

  • Water 300cc
  • Dashi (soup stock) 1 packet This one is tea-bag style and specifically for udon noodle.DSC_4208
  • 1 Frozen Sanuki udon bundle –no need for defrost, no precook necessary ( I like frozen noodle better than dry ones).DSC_4231
  • 1 stalk of Green onion finely sliced.
  • Grated ginger (optional)
  1. Boil water in pan
  2. Add dashi and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Remove dashi packet from pan and put noodle in.DSC_4214
  4. Cook about 4 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with green onion and your favorite topping. My husband likes add a few drops of rice vinegar.DSC_4228

I made the soft poached egg in the microwave using a poached egg gadget but you could make it in same pan as noodle is cooking. Gently drop the egg in after the noodle has cooked a little bit, cook until desired hardness is achieved. DSC_4201Here is another handful of fresh eggs from a friend.DSC_4212DSC_4217DSC_4220

We had snow last Thursday. The second snow fall in March DSC_4097DSC_4098DSC_4111DSC_4136DSC_4138DSC_4113DSC_4116DSC_4102DSC_4105My painting teacher ‘s neighbor built a snow man and a snow kid..Ah may be it’s a pet.DSC_4143Then next day was sunny and warm. Gorgeous display of flowers in front of the grocery store.DSC_4150DSC_4153

The kitchen floor is refinished and stained.DSC_4164A skilled cabinet installer spent 12 hours to put cabinets in the kitchen. Exciting and grateful.DSC_4233DSC_4237DSC_4238 

I remember something from the movie where someone said “A boom is like a festival, at some point it ends”.  That’s something to think about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Sho (匠) Japanese RestaurantDSC_3975

What perfect timing!  I was assigned to do a restaurant review more like introduction as a free-lance writer for local Japanese newspaper called Yuuyake Newspaper (夕焼け新聞) last week. As more time has passed, it’s getting more difficult to prepare food while the kitchen remodeling is underway. It seems our family didn’t have decent meals in what… a week? Funny, it feels much longer but whatever. Anyhow, I could sit down and have nice, hopefully free, meals. I was psyched! DSC_4032 Habanero roll

On day 3, I give up on the idea of eating healthy food during construction. We welcomed frozen pizza because no-washing-required food is our first priority. Sure, crock pot and pressure cooker are great but large pots need to be washed in big tub sink in the up-stairs laundry room. And where are the all the fats and food debris supposed to go?  I was soaked just get two things from the refrigerator the other day. Currently it is housed inside the garage. I had to go out the front door to the garage and visa-versa.  It must be Murphy’s law. The harder it rains the more things I forget to get from refrigerator. Maybe I am just getting old. Memo to myself-make list of what I need before going out the door.DSC_3981 

Because I can’t cook… let me rephrase that. I meant to say I can’t cook in these circumstances. I’m a good cook. Once in a blue moon, I’m a fabulous cook but because I can’t cook… oh my word! Let’s move on, I try not to look at other food blogger’s blog for fear that I start drooling on my keyboard. I can’t help peeking sometimes however. Many food bloggers take such glorious food photographs. Oh, oh I think I’m falling in love… I must make it as soon as my kitchen is back…Wow! Incredible! Fantastic!…. Two hours later, my recipe file (actually just a pile, I don’t know where my recipe file is. One of boxes I assume) plus the printer is out of paper.DSC_4031Canyon

I checked the Sho Restaurant web site the night before. I must do homework, right? Substantial number of colorful pictures grace the pages. It’s promising. I drove in the rain for only 15 minutes, it’s closer than I thought without getting lost. Thanks to my GPS. I should have invested in the company. Anyway, Sho restaurant offers a variety of Japanese foods for all ages, roomy interior and kid friendly menu. I had the deluxe bento dinner which is filled with fish dishes. I usually don’t care for cooked fish but interestingly enough I really liked the fish head cooked in sweet soy, ginger sauce. Original sushi rolls are colorful and have memorable names. Bird of Paradise, Route 66, Canyon, Hawaiian Sunshine and Hanabi (fire cracker). Names are so enticing.DSC_3982Yellow tail cooked in soy ginger sauce はまちかまの煮付けDSC_3991Mackerel cooked in miso さばの味噌煮

I tried the pork cutlet curry rice too. As I mentioned in my blog before, I love fried foods. I gave two thumbs up for both the curry flavor and the pork cutlet. Sho offers a number of desserts on the menu too. imported from Hawaii, Mochi ice-cream. Ever popular in Japan, green tea roll cake. What I want is strawberry shortcake possibly available in the near futureDSC_4017Pork cutlet curry riceDSC_4040Green tea mousse roll cake

My left over was doggie-bagged. Good! I don’t have to cook tonight. Do you feel lucky? Do ya? You are allowed to say that like Clint Eastwood.

I hope you had a fun St. Patrick's Day! I only made the table settings, the green drink and bought a shamrock.


Today was a messy day with sheetrock work – new sheetrock, sanding and put on texture.DSC_4083DSC_4084Here is the new window over the sink.DSC_4092

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Rice cooker cheese cakeDSC_3932

Whoever first thought about making cheese cake in a rice cooker was brilliant! Although I can not claim this is the best cheese cake ever, but for someone who does not have an oven, it has decent flavor. I read the rice cooker cheese cake recipe in a local Japanese newspaper a few years ago and have kept it in my recipe file ever since. Now that I don’t have an oven, I remembered the recipe. But Voila! The recipe is in one of the boxes I packed for kitchen remodeling!  I didn’t waste time looking, I just Googled it in Japanese and found several at cookpad.com - the Japanese version of allrecipes.com.

Just for this one time I’m glad that I didn’t have a IH (Induction heat) rice cooker which is the latest, high-tech and high performing rice cooker. Time to make this cheese cake differs from one rice cooker to another. I pushed the ‘cook’ switch three times to completely bake and it is more difficult to do with IH model won’t allow you to re-bake-Request denied is what the rice cooker is saying.

The recipe is simple and simpler if you mix all the ingredients in the rice cooker. I am trying  to avoid washing dishes as much as possible because of the sink situation yet I used the other bowl to combine first afraid that I will scratch rice cooker inner pan which is more expensive.  The cake out of the rice cooker is warm, fluffy and good but it’s best to eat after chilled over night. Lucky me, I had blueberries and made sauce in the microwave. It was not bad at all.

Ingredients for cheese cake

Special equipment-3 or more cup rice cooker
  • Cream cheese 1 box 226g room temperature
  • Sugar 80g
  • Heavy cream 200ml
  • 3 eggs
  • All-purpose flour 2 Tablespoon
  • Lemon juice 1 TablespoonDSC_3868
  1. Put cream cheese in a large bowl and stir until creamy with wooden spoon. If the cheese is too stiff to handle, warm up in a microwave for about 10 seconds or so.
  2. Add rest of ingredients in and mix well
  3. Pour cream cheese mixture into the rice cooker and cook.DSC_3884
  4. After cooking is done, check doneness by inserting wooden skewer. Push the button again if it’s not cooked. Like I said I had to push it three times. DSC_3891
  5. Turn it over onto a plate.DSC_3893DSC_3902 

We had snow today. I brought out a plate of cheese cake and took photos. DSC_3939DSC_3906DSC_3908DSC_3912DSC_3916

My neighbor across the street told me about strange mushroom growing on her fence. I went to see and here are some pictures I took. They are like little alien village. They are only about an inch tall.DSC_3945DSC_3946DSC_3950

Her back yard backs up to green belt and is so serene. DSC_3954DSC_3964DSC_3959

Our remodeling project is underway. Make-shift kitchen(s) have some challenges.DSC_3861DSC_3862DSC_3874This looks like jelly fishes in the ceiling.

DSC_3923My husband made curry rice other day in the crock pot. We ate left overs for the next three days.DSC_3840 We made a pantry under the dining table.DSC_3967Sink area A.K.A. powder room.

I will post more photos of remodeling project next Tuesday.